Are lawyers mechanics? In 1920, photographer Lewis Hines took a striking photo of a powerhouse mechanic sure-handedly wielding a large wrench to tighten bolts on a steam pump. This picture may bring to mind many things, but I suspect that many legal writing professors in our (past or present) incarnations as practicing attorneys would not look at this image and think, "My job is a lot like that." Similarly, I assume that many of our students do not think of a lawyer's role in this way. Indeed, many of our students might have chosen to pursue a career in law precisely as a way of escaping family traditions of this type of difficult physical labor. But the comparison between lawyer and mechanic is neither so far-fetched nor demeaning. Far from it. In fact, I propose that we legal writing professors can better serve our 1L students, and increase our chances of engendering and maintaining hope in our students, the ultimate goal of this conference, by more explicitly acknowledging the connections between the tools of legal writing and tools as used in the more down-to-earth context of manual labor.
Becker, Edward R. "If I Had a Hammer: Can Shepardizing, Synthesis, and Other Tools of Legal Writing Help Build Hope for Law Students?" Duquesne L. Rev. 48, no. 2 (2010): 325-47.